Ownership is a good thing.

Leadership poses many challenges.  This reality is indisputable.  The question is how do we respond to those challenges when we face them.  Oftentimes, it involves rationalization.  “Work-life balance is impossible especially when you lead an organization or ministry.”  “Choices have to be made.  My family and personal life will have to wait.”  Or, “once I get through this season, I will enjoy some downtime.”  “It is the choice I made when I became a leader,” a.k.a. rationalization.

At other times, challenges are responded to with misdirection.  “The pressures of the position caused my poor decisions.”  My emotional unhealthiness is a result of my work conditions – “if only I had better workers, coworkers or boss.”  “The board would not understand if I scaled back a bit in order to recover.”  “What would my peers think if I carved out some time to process a difficulty?”  In each of these statements is misdirection – it is someone else’s fault for my frustration and exasperation.

We live in a culture where ownership is averted.  It takes very little time on social media to see the full extent by which we can easily rationalize and misdirect our difficulties.  In fact, empathy is oftentimes present when we do as everyone has a story to share.

Leadership is not immune to this toxic disease.  Yet, in doing so, we resolve nothing.  It does not fill our soul; it takes from it.  Our leadership does not grow; it pushes people away.  Our leadership is not maximized; it is minimized.

The remedy is ownership.  Jesus masterfully challenged people to own issues.  Like a spiritual surgeon, he posed questions to individuals about their true state.  Whether it was the rich man or the woman at the well, he responded to rationalization and misdirection with poignant challenges to own our spiritual and emotional state.  When it came to those in authority, he was less gentle by calling out the religious leaders.

Ownership is a good thing.

The challenge is how to accomplish it.

  1. Reflection: Take time throughout the day to reflect and pray about your spiritual and emotional state.  It is tempting to delay that reflective process for the weekend or a vacation.  Yet, in reality, those times simply become escapes.  Rest is best accomplished when we fully process life, in the moment and in the midst of it.
  2. Avoid the “ifs and buts”. Rather than look out the window at the problems that pound at our day, embrace Jim Collin’s level five leadership by looking in the mirror.  What do I need to own today?  How am I responsible for my own heart and soul?
  3. Listen to the most important people in your life, not those that demand to be viewed as the most important. There is always someone who will want your attention; the task is to give an ear to those that are worth your attention.
  4. Deal with issues straight up. Don’t dance around them.  Address them.  Be honest in the midst of them.  And, last of all, own them.